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W.Va. governor talks road plans, public employees with NEWS9

West Virginia Governor Jim Justice was in Wheeling Thursday for the official opening of The Health Plan downtown. While there, he took time out of this day to sit down with NEWS9 concerning some important topics affecting the Mountain State, including the $2 billion that will be spent on West Virginia's roadways.

West Virginia Governor Jim Justice was in Wheeling Thursday for the official opening of The Health Plan downtown.

While there, he took time out of this day to sit down with NEWS9 concerning some important topics affecting the Mountain State, including the $2 billion that will be spent on West Virginia's roadways.

The projects will be funded by the state's “Roads to Prosperity Highway Program" that voters approved in October 2017.

Of the 35 projects on the list in 18 different counties, $172 million will be spent in Ohio County on the major rehabilitation and replacement of the bridges on Interstate 70.

The governor spoke to West Virginia Department of Transportation Engineer Gus Suwaid on Thursday concerning the improvements to begin in late 2018, early 2019.

"It will literally be thousands of jobs, and the economic fallout of that is enormous,” Justice said. “And we all know that the multiplier effect is astronomical, and there will be more. There's way more than that.”

The governor talked about projects all over the northern panhandle to improve roadways and bring in jobs. The bid date for the Ohio County project -- the largest of them all -- is June 2018 and they will begin work shortly after.

Meanwhile, public workers in West Virginia have been rallying and protesting for higher pay and better benefits.

Justice announced a 17-month freeze on public employees’ insurance agency plans, stalling proposed changes, until lawmakers can come up with a permanent fix.

The PEIA board must still approve the freeze.

"Nothing is going to change in PEIA, period, but it will cost us about $29 million. I also proposed a 1,1,1,1 ,1 guaranteed pay raise, and that's where I think we should stay so we don't have to take money away from investments and those investments can bring us a lot more money,” Justice said.

Justice says that would just be the beginning, and when the state is doing better, public employees could get even more.

He also says he tried last year to get a 2 percent pay raise for teachers, but lawmakers disagreed.

Justice says the election year has prompted for lawmakers to give more teacher support.

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